Meghan Markle Told to Testify on Biography Co-Operation in New Court Defeat

Meghan Markle will be forced to testify on whether she co-operated with a bombshell biography in a significant defeat in her privacy case against a U.K. tabloid.

The Duchess of Sussex lost the third round of her legal battle against the Mail on Sunday over a letter she sent her father. The full trial is not until January.

She is suing the newspaper after it published substantial extracts of the handwritten note in which she revealed her feelings about Thomas Markle's decision to co-operate with the media.

Meghan claims publication breached her privacy but the newspaper's lawyers say the letter was written with the intention it would eventually become public.

They point to the fact a biography titled Finding Freedom contains extracts from the letter and say they believe Meghan provided "extensive co-operation" with its authors.

The Mail on Sunday asked for the book to be included in the case to let lawyers question both Meghan and co-author Omid Scobie about how much involvement Meghan had.

The Press Association reported Judge Francesca Kaye told the High Court today that she was granting the application, paving the way for lawyers to question the duchess in detail when she gives evidence next year.

In a court filing last Monday, the newspapers lawyers said: "On August 11, 2020, a book was published entitled 'Finding Freedom: Harry, Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family' which is a biography of [Meghan] and her husband, focusing on events in their lives, including their private lives, since their relationship began and which gives every appearance of having been written with their extensive co-operation.

Meghan Markle in Tembisa township, South Africa
Meghan Markle visits Tembisa township to learn about Youth Employment Services (YES) in Johannesburg, South Africa, on October 2, 2019. On the same day, Meghan's legal action against the Mail on Sunday over a letter she sent her father was announced. Facundo Arrizabalaga/Getty

"The book contains a great deal of detailed information about [Meghan's] personal life including a number of passages referring to her relationship and communications with her father, and a section referring to the letter which is at the heart of this case.

"[The Mail on Sunday] relies on the contents of the book and other matters in support of proposed amendments to its case."

Judge Kaye said the newspaper's attempt to infer Meghan's co-operation with the book might "fall apart" at trial.

As reported by the Evening Standard, she said today: "There is always the risk with an inferential case that it will fall apart at an early stage if the inferences start to unravel", she said. "But these are clearly matters for the trial judge."

She refused to grant permission for Meghan's lawyers to appeal though the duchess could still seek permission from the Court of Appeal, Sky News reported.

Meghan's lawyers said in a court filing last week that the letter extracts printed by Scobie and co-author Carolyn Durand were lifted from the newspaper's story.

They said: "The two short extracts from the Letter that appear in the Book were published one year and five months after the Mail on Sunday articles.

"It cannot be disputed that they amount to a small fraction of what the Defendant published from the Letter, without [Meghan's] consent.

"To make matters worse, what was published in the Book by way of extracts from the Letter was lifted from the [Mail on Sunday's] own articles."

Scobie has also denied that Meghan co-operated with the publication of the book.